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December 04, 2005: Dashing into the spirit

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After the rain we had this week (rain for which the local news kept interrupting Lost on Wednesday night to foam at the mouth about how we are having a Winter Storm - um, not), I checked the forecast for the weekend and decided that since it was to be sunny and nice this weekend, we ought to take advantage of the break in the weather to take care of all the outdoor parts of decorating the house for Christmas. There are fewer pre-Christmas weekends this year, since Christmas falls on a Sunday, and the unfortunate thing about this time of year is that by the time we get home it is too dark to do anything like go tree-hunting, or climb out on the roof to put up lights, so if we are going to do either, it has to be the weekend, or not at all.

Thus, yesterday we got up and despite the overwhelming desire to just say to heck with it and loll around all day in our pajamas doing nothing remotely productive, we instead headed out and tackled the lengthy list of things to get accomplished. First stop breakfast, followed by Costco, since we needed to get stuff for the food drive at church (for which I am one of the team leaders), plus we're doing the food drive again at work so I wanted to have something to bring in for that. And while we were in the area I needed to get a skein of brown yarn for a gift I am making for Christmas, so we first went to Joann's, but they have apparently decided, in their infinite lack of wisdom, that the only people who want to buy yarn prefer to buy the foofy fluffy stuff that is only good for scarves, and have been slowly phasing out all their basic solid color worsted. Luckily Michael's has a marvelous yarn selection - something I have tended to forget, but will remember now that Joann's is no longer an option - so I found the yarn I needed, plus some yarn that I didn't, but which needed to come home with me anyway. And then we stopped by CompUSA because even though neither of us can stand that place it is the closest source of ink for our printer.

We managed to get all of this accomplished before noon, so next was to swing by Blockbuster because while transferring all my stuff from the old purse to the new purse last weekend, I stumbled upon a Blockbuster gift card. I am not entirely sure where it came from, but we figured we might as well take advantage of the opportunity to score some free DVD's, and they just happened to have a copy of Signs, which I have decided I must watch every Halloween, even though it makes me cry every time I see it. And then it was off to the local tree farm (because how cool is it to have a tree farm in your very own town) to cut down our Christmas tree.

I remembered that we prefer the incense cedar, so we went to that section first. But I was appalled to discover that the tree farm decided that trimming all the other types of trees wasn't bad enough, so they also had to go trimming all the incense cedar trees into perfect, narrow cones. I can only assume that a majority of people prefer their trees to look perfect and fake and that I am apparently in a very small minority, but I prefer my tree to look like, well, a tree. If I am going to go through the bother of cutting down my own tree I want it to have imperfections - little bare spots, or branches sticking out in odd directions. A tree should have personality. If I wanted a perfect cone-shaped tree I'd go buy a damn fake tree, for crying out loud.

Poor Richard got to listen to me mutter and grumble about what the tree farm did to the incense cedars as we tramped around in a futile search for one they might have missed. Finally we headed for the tiny little patch of redwoods, where we discovered that at least the mad shaping monsters had not attacked them too (yet, I suppose) and we finally found our tree.

We moved the plant stand from the living room to the dining room, where it lives each winter so that the tree can take the place of honor in the bay window. We got the tree into its stand with a minimum of effort and then we dragged down all the boxes of Christmas stuff from the attic (wow, we have a lot). Richard sorted through all the lights, which he carefully labels and wraps each year so that he knows now exactly which ones go to which window or spot on the roof. Then he tackled the lights on the garage and the porch while I started going through all the decorations, and between the two of us we managed to get all the decorations on the tree, and about half the lights hung, and most of the other decorations dispersed throughout the house, and all of that just in time, too, because who should call but Beth to say that they would be passing by our town in an hour or two and could they stop by. Since we haven't actually been able to see them in a year or two, I immediately said yes, and then we zipped around and did some hasty child-proofing (which, in a house with five careening cats, doesn't require much additional work at all) and threw together some chicken and black bean enchiladas because I wasn't sure if they'd had dinner, and put a pot of cider on the stove to mull, and Richard vacuumed up the excess pine needles from dragging around a freshly cut tree, and by the time they arrived we were more than ready for them.

It was wonderful to get to see them; to meet their newest son (who is now about four months old and very alert and cute) and watch their little three-year-old happily entertain himself for nearly the entire visit with Richard's set of antique cast iron trains (which are extremely sturdy and perfect for small people to play with as long as they don't try to drop one of the cars on themselves because cast iron is a bit heavy). We chatted with Sabs about his job as a cook in a restaurant (he recently finished school to become a chef), and with Beth about what she's been up to with work, and we talked about kids and cats and their new apartment and it seemed like they had barely been there any time at all when they finally had to go.

Today hasn't been nearly as busy, although we took advantage of the remaining sun and nice weather, and Richard got the rest of the lights hung outside while I got most of the ones inside up and signed and addressed the first batch of 40 or so Christmas cards. We had the remaining enchiladas for dinner while we watched our usual Sunday shows and I was pretty happy that something I threw together on a whim turned out so darn good. We mulled more cider and turned on the lights on the tree and with all the decorations out and the house smelling faintly like pine, it isn't too hard to believe that Christmas is only a few weeks away.

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